Long story short, I hired a contractor to remove three trees from
my property and in the process he caused damage beyond the usual yard
dings from falling limbs and trunks. He dropped a limb on my shed,
breaking the shingles and wood sheeting. Dropped a limb on my yard
rake, shattering it. Tried to hide both damages until I confronted him.
He said, 'well the roof was old anyway'. It was but it was completely
intact. He purchased in inferior POS rake to replace my broken one
telling me that's all Home Depot had.
That was a lie because I stopped at the same HD the same day and bought
my replacement that was identical to my old one.
Came out on the wettest, muddiest day of the year and tore up my path to
the woods with his equipment. I'll never get my yard tractor back to my
compost area. Left large logs scattered back in my woods.
At this point I called his office and told them they were not to return
to complete the job unless I was present.
They returned the next day when I was at work, against my wishes of
being present and attempted cut the stumps down and to clean up the
thick layer of sawdust in the area. They piled the sawdust in piles on
the edge of my yard in a completely unacceptable area.
That was the last straw so I called the office and fired the company.
Told them never to return.
I've had ten other trees removed from my property. Five that I did and
five that I had another company do. Those ten trees didn't create as
much mess or damage as this guy did with these three.
I sent them 800.00 of a 1200.00 invoice. Held the bal to cover repairs.
Got a phone call from their office a few days later to call the owner of
the co (who is the one that did the job, causing the damage). I thought
he wanted to discuss options to settle the matter so I called.
I hardly got a word in edgewise. He proceeded to cuss me out, call me
an asshole, tell me I was a deadbeat, threaten me and tell me that there
were collection agencies for people like me. I asked him about my
damaged property and he informed me that he didn't give a f**k about my
property and that he could have hired 4 ni**ers to do the job for less
and that he'll see me in court. I said I'd see him there and hung up.
I recorded parts of this conversation.
Against my desire to go to his place of business and tear his white
trash, racist head off, I instead decided to follow the legal route. I
called the cops, filed a report on the threat and will proceed to file a
restraning order in a day or two when I have the chance.
So, my question is: Is it ok to withold part of the payment due him to
cover repair costs? He has insurance that I may use but I'm still going
to hold the bal until repairs are completed to my satisfaction. You
know how insurance companies are.
Should I let it go to court?
Any other advise for a situation like this?
I would attempt to talk to him the option about having the repair work
cost deducted from the total invoice at a reasonable price or see him
in small claims court. The first option is much better for both
parties but if you go to court provide all the evidence including
pictures taken soon after the incident and bank statements. Contact
your home insurance agent.
I would first pursue this through his insurance company and also notify
your own, provided you have coverage for the shed. Take good pictures
of the damage. Withhold the remaining payment until the issue is
resolved. Make sure to have good documentation/bills for any repairs
made, the new rake, etc.
As far as contacting the police and restraining orders, what exact
threats did he make? Did he threaten you physically? Unless he did,
simply calling you some names and demanding payment is normally not a
Oh, and another very important point. I'd check your state laws on
recording phone conversations before you tell anyone, especially the
police, that you have them. In some states it's a criminal offense to
record phone conversations without the consent of both parties. You
could wind up in a lot more trouble than the contractor.
I think YOU should initiate the small claims case, he likely won't since he
knows he is in the wrong. he ma may destroy your credit if he turns you over
to collections. I bet once you have him served with the court papers he will
change his tune. I would also jack up prices as high as possible on
everything since he was such a prick on the phone. the publicity on his
business will be devastating if he doesn't settle quickly.
Do NOT contact your insurance company. Why would you be giving them a
reason to raise your rates when it should be the other person or their
insurance company who has to pay?
Take them to court. Judy Judy should rip them a new one.
I would stop paymnt on the first check if it is not to late now, and
get bids on making things right . You say he has insurance, well how do
you know, did he present you with proof of insurance, insurance certs
can be changed-forged. You need to talk to his broker and inform them of
your claim. Check with the city for all proper bonding and lisences. A
restraining order will help to show you are serious. Don`t worry about
his collection agency threats, if he is legal, lisenced and insured and
the damages are less than 400 fix things yourself. Get several written
bids for all repairs. If more than 400 for apx 35$ file in small claim
that will shut him up. If he threatens with any thing like a Lien or
anything more you should file small claim anyway to let a judge resolve
the issue. You dont need or want a lawyer for this or small claims. See
if he is completly legal, stop pay, get bids, and file your restraining
order. Hacks like that need the action you are already expecting to do
and have taken. Keep your phone recorder on Auto answer. I had a guy I
stopped payment on and with my auto on recorder I was lucky, because the
first words out of him when I answered were a threat I played back to
the police, without Auto on I would never have had the time to push the
buttons. He is a hack-crook, treat him as one, and keep taking the
first step legally as you have done, to beat him to the punch.
INSURANCE: A homeowner can't usually talk to a contractor's broker
Well, you can talk to them but you cannot make a claim against hi
insurance. Only he can do that.
What you can do is to call your homeowner's insurance and tell the
about the damage to your property. They in turn will pay you and the
pursue his insurance company for reimbursement.
The problem with this approach is, depending on your deductable, yo
may end up paying more out of pocket by alerting your insurerer tha
what the damages are worth.
WITHHOLDING PAYMENT: In many states it is illegal to withhold paymen
from a contractor without first
a)Making full payment on the portions of work completed and with whic
there is no dispute
b)Notifying the contractor within 7 days of the receipt of his bill fo
services that there is a dispute and just what the dispute is.
c)Failing to follow this proceedure can cause you be be fully liabl
for all financial claims by the contractor, have to pay interest on an
money withheld, and having to pay for court costs and attorney's fees b
the contractor to collect his debt.
d)It can be a criminal offense to stop payment on a check in som
SMALL CLAIMS: You could proceed via small claims court but it will cos
you to do so and there is no guarantee you will win. Even if you ar
100% correct people lie and judges don't know when they are lyin
especially when the lies are corroborated by witnesses. If this fello
has his employees show up and they say the rake was already broken an
that your shed roof was already damaged, you could be fully out o
luck. Magistrates and small claims judges don't even want to wast
their time with cases like these in most situations and may be irke
with you simply because yu brought the case to trial.
CONTRACT: What does his contract say about damage from falling trees o
branches? Some tree men will fully disclaim any and all responsibilit
for damages from falling trees or branches and also not warrant an
damages to your property from their heavy equipment in mud. If you
contract agreement has a no damage clause, then you have no case.
Personally,and for the amount of damage that is involved, you may jus
wish to swallow this loss and chalk it up to experience...
It could cost you more to pursue any action and you coudl come awa
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Agreed. After considerable thought I have decided to pay the balance
due. The reality is that the work he did is worth more than the full
payment to him. His estimate was a good thousand
or 12 hunderd dollars lower than my next lowest bid.
I will then clain it against his insurance company. I have already
contacted them. I'm not going to involve my insurance co.
Not for this.
By doing this, I know that I will be in the right and clear. If they
don't fix it then I can fix it for only a hundred or two dollars and
some elbow grease.
It feels better this way.
I appreciate all the input from everyone.
I applaud your forthrightness in admiting that part avbout the "lowest
bidder" and realizing that in hiring folks to do jobs like that you are
lucky if you get what you pay for, more often you have to settle for
less than you expected to get.
Another wise decision...
You've just confirmed again what Confucius said, "If rape is inevitable,
just lie back and try and enjoy it."
Well then, I am sorry that 1) you needed to "quote" Confucius as saying
such a thing, and 2) you think rape is acceptable as a humorous analogy.
Look, I don't mind the usual mindless "women are home wreckers" joking
that goes on here, but rape just isn't something you joke about, nor
attribute to a deep mind. It goes "plonk" on both fronts.
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